Red-lining Your Team

In today’s crazy pandemic world, we have witnessed many people who have been furloughed, laid-off, or just simply told not to come to work until things are back to normal. 

We have also seen other companies not only get to stay open but tremendously increase the products and services they provide.  From healthcare providers to emergency services to production lines to retail, essential businesses have doubled and tripled their workloads, thus making their teams run at or beyond the red line.

“Red lining” refers to moving the needle past the red line on your car’s tachometer, which measures the engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM).  Anyone who has pressed the accelerator while the transmission was in neutral has observed the needle move closer to, and even past, that red line indicator as the engine revs higher and higher.

Keeping an engine at the red line over an extended period will greatly increase wear and tear which can lead to serious problems.  Thus, the red line is there to warn the driver that the engine is hitting maximum output.

Essential employees are being red-lined every day and have been for a couple of months now.  It is more important than ever that leaders keep a watchful eye on the RPMs of our employees.

Like a mechanic monitoring an engine’s performance, leaders must watch for the signs of trouble and make corrections before it is too late.

These signs include irritability, exhaustion, an increase in mistakes, calling out sick, and/or safety incidents, and a loss of motivation.

Knowing the individuals on your team is the surest way of spotting these signs early.  You must intervene and provide caring leadership before the wear and tear destroys the engine all together.  When you spot the warning signs, take the time to adjust accordingly. 

This might require you to get out of your office, roll up your sleeves and help your team perform their tasks.  It shows that you not only care, but that you are in it with them.  It may simply mean that you just need to listen to them vent their frustrations and provide genuine, gracious responses.  Even a simple word of appreciation goes a long way. 

How you respond to your team plays a critical role in leading them through this unprecedented and difficult time.  Remember, servant leadership from a caring heart is like precious oil to an overworking engine! 


Published by Bryan Etters

Hi! I am a servant leader determined to help leaders grow and develop their personal and professional leadership skills. I am a retired military member with over 20 years of leadership experience in both the military and business worlds. I am determined to help you lead!

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